Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Hello dear readers,

While in Hong Kong, we decided to visit the territory of Macau, situated 60 kilometres south west of Hong Kong.
A one hour ferry trip got us there with a very smooth and efficient ride.

Macau was a colony of Portugal from the sixteenth century until 1999.  It is now governed by China as a Special Administrative Region - quasi-independent like Hong Kong.

The economy is largely dependent on tourism. The gambling industry has very a strong influence and there are numerous casinos of extravagant and unusual design located there. We mistook one of them for an ancient Chinese temple!

It is a very crowded city, apparently the most densely populated area in the world, I read somewhere.
That becomes apparent when you see the multiple high rise apartment buildings that sit so close to one another.

We wandered around the "old area" of the centre of town.
Throughout our travels we have been drawn to such areas - they all seem to offer the most in history, ambience and usually interesting little shops and restaurants.
We were certainly not disappointed.

A beautiful old square was surrounded by shops and restaurants and the old Portuguese churches and government buildings. Only a little walk away, there were the streets with the local markets and tiny little pocket-sized shops that sold uniquely Macanese food.
The streets and the public square were paved in white cobble-stones with black motif designs.

The food and the street signs reflected the Portuguese history - a favourite local food was beef or pork "jerky".

I was amazed to see so many Chinese-style apothecary shops that sold any number of dried animal parts and herbs etc. I recently read that there are no Western-style medical schools in Macau and trainee doctors have to go elsewhere for their education.
This may be the reason for the vast number of Chinese remedy shops on every street corner!

I found it a very interesting little place, and would certainly go there to stay for a few days if I ever went to Hong Kong again.

A passport is required to move between Macau and Hong Kong - indicative of their different origins, even though both are now regions of China.

Large odd shaped building is a casino.

Cobbled white and black footpaths.

Unique Macanese food

People were lining up for this dried meat, like a type of 'jerky'.

No idea what this really is, in a Chinese 'apothecary'

Signs in both Chinese and Portuguese.

Lovely old building in the town square.

That's it, the trip is over!
Thanks for joining me along the way and I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Cheers til next time,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hong Kong Street Scenes.

A few quick snaps to add to the story.

Bamboo is used for scaffolding on small and large buildings. Here it is used to construct the frame for a market canopy. 

Making sugar cane juice from fresh canes.

Have you ever seen a push-bike as small as this!?



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hong Kong

Hello dear readers,

We are now back in Melbourne, however I thought I would  post a few more times and complete the story of "our trip".
We arrived in Hong Kong after a flight of 12 hours duration from London.
Our hotel was the Marco Polo, located in the area called Kowloon, which is on the mainland side of the Hong Kong harbour.
Kowloon is the tourist and entertainment area of Hong Kong city, compared to the banking and business area which is on Hong Kong island in the harbour.
Hong Kong is now "a special autonomous region" of China and no longer a colony of Great Britain.

It seemed that where we were located, shopping was the main big attraction.
Large designer stores and extensive shopping complexes with  a combination of designer outlets, jewelry  stores, ''regular" shopping and food malls, all open until 12 midnight every night, was the norm.
I found the stores expensive and quite frankly, I do not like to shop just for the sake of shopping.
I think that Hong Kong shops are probably perfect for those who love to do just that!

We spent our days there recovering a little from  the flight, and just generally browsing markets etc which I, personally, find much more my style than expensive retail stores.
We ate a lot, savouring some of the many strange and exotic dishes on offer.
We visited night markets, took a ferry to the other side and also one to the island of Macau. ( will write about that in next post)
Here are a few photos from Hong Kong.

Night time food market.

Ferry on the harbour. ( this one is actually pointing to Kowloon side)

We caught the ferry across the harbour to the main business and banking area.
On that side of Hong Kong, there is a cable car with an extremely steep incline, that we went on. This took us to the top of Victoria Peak, the highest lookout point in Hong Kong.

 A view from Victoria Peak.

Another little interesting and unusual fact ( to me, anyway) is that there are double decker trams (and buses) in the business district of Hong Kong.

Double decker tram and bus next to each other.

Anyway, folks, that's it for today, must away and get a few 'normal' housey things accomplished!

Cheers for now,


Monday, March 28, 2011

London Street Scenes


1. A pretty London door(yes I know I am mad about doors!)
2. 'Hodge' Doctor Johnsons's cat. Dr. Johnson compiled the first comprehensive English dictionary which was published in 1755. I am yet to figure out why the cat deserved a statue, however there it was in Gough square featured sitting on top of a dictionary.
3. A photo of a London cab! Last time I was here London cabs were plain black only. As you can see times have changed!

Cheers for now,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

London/Portobello Road.

Yesterday was our first full day in London. Not far from our hotel is Berkeley Square where you can see in the photo that Spring has come to London and the daffodils are out.
We had a walk through the garden in the mild sun-shine, the fragrance of the daffodils was delightful.
We decided to go to Portobello road market, a popular market held on a Saturday in the suburb of Notting Hill.
Our plans were thwarted some what as there was a large political rally on combined with underground train line closures! Not a good combination I tell you.
However we persevered through the crowds and did reach our destination which was FULL of tourists and locals alike all doing the same as us, browsing the stalls and trying to find a little bargain or two!
I did buy a little something, I mean , how could I not!!
I will post it on Bead Table Wednesday, or rather, it might have to be Bead Table Tuesday, as we will be on a plane on Wednesday, so might have to "cheat" a little!
There were LOTS of yummy food stalls at one end of the market, I couldn't believe the size of the paella dish , see photo.
We have discovered a wonderful little eating area near our hotel called Shepherd Market, lots of quaint restaurants and English style pubs.

That's it for today folks, a bit of a post and run, but we have lots to do and not much time!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Finally, a post about Turkey!

Well, finally managed to get a post written about Turkey.
I am actually in London now!
I could not post on blogger about our time in Istanbul as there was a blogger ban in Turkey.
Hopefully this will be a short term problem, I know a lot of people in Turkey with blogs were very upset about it.
Anyway on to Istanbul!
We had a very interesting time in Istanbul. Our hotel, the Ayasofya was a 2 story weatherboard building in the old part of town. We were actually located in an apartment further up the hill owned by the hotel which was great as we had a wonderful view of the surrounding area, including some of the little hotels in the area, mosques and a view over to the Sea of Marmara.
Right next to our apartment window was the Turkish equivalent of the Colosseum, the hippodrome wall, quite deteriorated and sometimes a bit of graffiti on it, but Roman and ancient it was!
The streets were old and cobblestoned and hilly, so once again I was thankful for my trusty
hiking boots.
We visited the Blue Mosque, a very large mosque with beautiful Iznik tiles inside. We took off our shoes and I covered my head with a scarf as that is the traditional religious requirement of entry.
There is one very large dome and multiple smaller domes around it and 4 minarets.
The carpet is red with aqua tulips and carnations, two traditional design elements from the Ottoman Empire.
We also went to see the Topkapi Palace, once the centre of government and the Sultan's palace.
I found the Harem area intriguing, lots of rooms for favoured concubines and their slaves, reception rooms, rooms for eunechs. I think there are over 300 rooms in the whole palace from memory.
All the rooms in the harem were large and very tall, all covered with Iznik tiles, predominantly in aqua and blue colors. All of the tiles were intricate in design, most as strong in color as when they were made.
Some rooms had tall intricate brazier type heaters and many had washing basins.
We also went to the spice bazaar, in the first photo you can see some unusual dried spices, the darker ones, I believe are dried eggplants.
We also caught a ferry across the Bosphorous to the Asian side just to say we had done that!
We tried different foods including fresh pomegranate juice ( see photo above) spiced milk drinks from a street vendor that sold it from a wonderful brass container, lovely creamy yoghurt, kebabs and quite a number of different and tasty breads. Oh of course, Turkish delight and Halva ( a desert made from pulverized sesame seeds)
Each night we wandered around finding a different restaurant, browsing around the myriad streets in our district and beyond.
Traffic in Istanbul is quite busy, the streets are narrow where we were,however,we found the drivers courteous and helpful to each other at all times. There was a lot of reversing to let other cars past etc, all with no bad temper or road rage! Traffic lights were few and far between, pedestrians would wander a lot of the time in the centre of the road and just move in time when a vehicle approached; certainly a very different way of doing things, but it all seemed to work quite well!
Anyway,time to finish now, I am in London now and have got to get a few posts done here before we head off to Hong Kong in a few days time,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Colosseum

Today we returned to the Colosseum, or Flavvian amphitheater for a closer look. The Colosseum is the largest structure left to us by Roman antiquity. It is a model for sports arenas of modern times. It is a very powerful building, however quite a lot of it has been damaged over the centuries by fire, earthquake and neglect. Pillaging of marble, travertine and metal was rife and used for construction of other palazzos etc. In more modern times damage from pollution is evident.
There are 80 arched entrances. These once held statues, now long gone. It held 50-60,00 spectators.
The floor has long gone, but visible today are the corridors and rooms below which held cages for animals, rooms for gladiators and slaves etc
Apparently animals were imported from Asia Minor, Africa and Europe to compete in brutal fights in the Colosseum.
It is hard to believe that bloody battles between elephants, tigers and cheetahs were quite a common occurrence in the Colosseum, an outrageous idea in the modern world of today.
There was a complicated system of platforms and winches to bring the animals from below ground up to the elliptical arena.
This must have been an astounding sight to the average spectator who was by all accounts just your average farmer.
Gladiators were chosen for their height and strenghth; the average height for a Roman man at this time was a mere 4 foot 6 ( so said the guide- seems unreal, doesn't it!)
Gladiators used to perform during a fight, but not necessarily kill each other. Slaves and criminals on the other hand would fight to the death or be condemned to death after a fight by the vote of the crowd and the Emperor's hand signal.

1. Colosseum arches
2. A numbered archway
3. View across the Colosseum with the exposed underneath area visible.

Apparently a very wealthy Italian has recently left 25million Euro for the restoration of the Colosseum which will begin next year.

Cheers until next time,


Roman street scenes

1. Note the license plate on this little fiat!
2. See the Roman city logo, on this police box, Romulus and Remus. Romulus was the founder of Rome. Legend says that he and his brother, Remus, were orphaned and brought up by a she wolf.
3. A couple of centurion guards, waiting for a photo opportunity!


Friday, March 18, 2011


We arrived in Rome yesterday.
This morning we chose to go on a city tour to see the sights.
It was a double decker bus, a 2-day pass for E15 each and the type of bus that you can jump on/off at various stops.Not bad value.

Photo 1.
We saw The Colosseum, a "noble wreck in ruinous perfection" said Byron
It used to seat over 50,000 bloodthirsty spectators who revelled in the spectacle of gladiators fighting to the death!
Photo 2.
Ruins of the Ancient Roman Forum.
Photo 3.
The Trevi fountain.
This flamboyant rococo-style fountain was designed in 1762 by Nicolo Salvi.It's central figure is the sea-god Neptune standing astride a giant shell drawn by winged horses led by Tritons. One horse is placid, the other agitated, symbolizing calm and stormy seas.
The fountain was beautiful, but oh so crowded, however I did throw a coin in to the fountain over my left shoulder. Apparently this means I will come back!

We saw so much today and once again walked until our feet were aching, there is just so much to see! Not too sure if some things will be closed tomorrow or not.
The Sistine Chapel is CLOSED tomorrow, some type of holiday, and we leave on Sunday morning so will not be able to see it. I was SO disappointed, so here's hoping that coin works!
Cheers for now,


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doors and door knobs, Florence


1. This first photo is a church, re-built in the 17th Century. It was formerly the headquarters of the Ciompi or wool-carders.
At the two sides of the 16th Century doorway with it's broken pediment, you can still see carved in stone the carding comb and the rack, the insignia of the corporation.
At one time filled with works of art, the church was later closed to the public and turned into a workshop.

2. A very unusual iron handle.

3. This door bell is recessed in what looks like a miniature marble bath. To ring the bell, you pull out the button in the centre which is attached to a string.

There are just so many interesting doors and door knobs in Florence.
Even the plainer ones are beautiful to me.
All the doors are massive, I guess a smaller one would look rather lost on these impressive and tall apartment blocks. ( most in this street are 3 stories high)


Street Scenes of Florence

Cheers jenni

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Photos from Florence

1. A picture of Brunellesschi's cupola del duomo (cathedral dome) on the Cathedral of Florence, an engineering marvel.
2. The Ponte Vecchio bridge, the oldest bridge in the city, built as it is now in 1345. The little row of houses on either side are jewelry (mostly gold) shops.
Above the houses, on the upstream side of the bridge, is Vasari's corridor, built by Vasari so Cosimo could go from Palzzo Pitti to Palace Vecchio, a "secret" corridor.
A local pharmacy, note the old sign .

Cheers for now,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Palazzo Vecchio

Today we went to see the Palazzo Vecchio, originally the seat of city government since the 1300's now a museum.
The Medici dukes turned the medieval building into a Renaissance palace in the 1500's filling it with art and frescoes that still grace it's labyrinth of rooms.
The building dominates the Piazza Della Signoria. It looks almost fortress like, with it's high walls and soaring 94m high tower.
I was delighted to see a small tour of little children, they looked to be only 3 or 4 years old learning about art in their town with the help of a guide and a puppet- very sweet.

Photos are;
1. Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza Della Signoria.
2. The internal front courtyard.
3. A frescoe on an internal wall.
4 (below) The 450 year old floor. Note the heraldic device of Cosimo de' Medici(1519-1574)a turtle with a sail.Cosimo 1 was appointed head of the family when only 17 years old. He the became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569.

Cheers until next time,

A Court-yard apartment in Florence.

We arrived in Florence yesterday, the weather grey and drizzling with rain.
We walked from the railway station down bumpy, cobbled streets to find our accommodation on the via San Zanobi.
Entrance to the main house is through these magnificent doors (see photo).
We then walk through the house belonging to Daniella and Roberto and their 3 children, to our sweet and surprisingly spacious courtyard apartment.
The apartment is decorated with eclectic pieces from all over the world, as Daniella and Roberto have been serious travellers over the last 12 years.
Down the end of the street is a supamercato (supermarket) which was appreciated.
Apparently, via San Zanobi used to be the location of Michelangelo's workshop, although , unfortunately there is no sign of it today.

1. Courtyard apartment.
2. Via San Zanobi
3. Doors through to main house.
4. A painting over our bed

Cheers for now,

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